Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

I just adore flowers. Spring bulbs – and – in particular, – tulips are my favourite. We drove to Ottawa today to pick up our daughter and help her move out of her Ottawa apartment. Little did anyone know that it was just an excuse for me to see something I’d always wanted to see – but never taken the time to do – the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

We’ve always moved our University kids home at the end of April. The streets of Ottawa and other Canadian cities are usually full of parents stuffing their cars full of clothes, pots and pans and broken furniture at the end of April. This year we visited Ottawa just a little later – and bingo – the tulips were blooming!

Ottawa Tulip Festival History

The Ottawa tulip festival features over 1,000,000 tulips and is typically attended by more than 600,000 people each year. There are displays of tulips all around the city, with the largest displays along the Rideau Canal and in Commissioners Park at Dow’s Lake.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

During World War II and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Queen Juliana and her family stayed in Ottawa. During their stay, Queen Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward temporarily became Dutch territory during that time, so that Princess Margriet would be solely a Dutch citizen.

In thanks, the Dutch Royal family sent 100,000 tulips to Canada in 1945, and then another 20,500 tulips in 1946, with a promise for 10,000 more bulbs each year.

The Canadian Tulip Festival has been celebrated in Ottawa since 1953. Princess Margriet has visited regularly, and this year arrived for a 5 day visit. She began her visit with a planting of tulips at Stornoway – the home of Canada’s official opposition leader, where the Dutch Royal family stayed during World War II.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

When is the Canadian Tulip Festival?

This annual event is held each year in Ottawa Ontario. In 2022 the event will take place from May 13 to 23 – daily from 10am to 11pm.

Canadian Tulip Festival Location

The Canadian Tulip Festival takes place in Commissioners Park Ottawa Ontario. There is no parking – but you can take public transport or walk from another venue. My husband kindly dropped us in the neighbourhood and parked nearby! The park is located along Dow Lake along Carling Avenue – see google Maps below.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.3971819,-75.7036576,17z

There is actually public parking at Dow’s Lake, but it will be full during the event, unless you are very crafty! During this event there will be quite a few road closures in the neighbourhood and traffic – not to mention the constant construction in Ottawa.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

The good news is that there is a Tulip Shuttle bus! One way tickets are available for cash only $10 on the day of your visit – BUT – you can buy round trip passes online in advance for $20.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

WEEKDAYS: -Hourly- May 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23 

0:00:  Westin Ottawa – first stop 10:00am, last stop 6:00pm

0:05:  National Gallery – first stop 10:05am, last stop 6:05pm

0:10: Chateau Laurier– first stop 10:10am, last stop 6:10pm

0:15: Lord Elgin- first stop 10:15am, last stop 6:15pm

WEEKENDS: -Every 30 minutes- May 14, 15, 21, 22

0:35: Dow’s Lake Pavilion– first stop 10:35am, last stop 6:35pm

0:00 & 0:30 Westin Ottawa – first stop 10:00am, last stop 9:30pm

0:05 & 0:35 National Gallery – first stop 10:05am, last stop 9:35pm

0:10 & 0:40 Chateau Laurier – first stop 10:10am, last stop 9:40pm

0:15 & 0:45 Lord Elgin – first stop 10:15am, last stop 9:45pm

0:35 & 0:05 Dow’s Lake Pavilion – first stop 10:35am, last stop 10:05pm

Commissioners Park is located just down the road from Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood. This is where we regularly enjoy a lovely pasta meal – at one of the many Italian Restaurants, after a walk in the park.

Little Italy Ottawa - across from Commissioner's Park
Little Italy Ottawa – across from Commissioner’s Park

Is the Canadian Tulip Festival free?

Yes it is! Oh, you can book a shuttle bus – or you can book a $10 guided tour, but you don’t need to. If you are just there to see the tulips, just find your way to the park and have a lovely walk around. There are typically other events – arts displays at Lansdowne Park, a tour of Gatineau, other tulip displays around town that you can pay to see – but the tulip display is the draw! You can walk along Colonel By Drive to Commissioners Park – and just enjoy the view!

Commissioner's Park Ottawa
Commissioner’s Park Ottawa

Will there be a tulip festival in Ottawa?

Yes. While the festival was cancelled during the pandemic peak – those darn tulips sprout and bloom no matter what. In 2022, the tulip festival is back!

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

When should I visit the tulips?

While the tulip festival occurs in 2022 -May 13 to May 23 – the flowers begin to bloom every year a few days before and a few days after – and there are fewer crowds!

If you enjoy tulips and spring flowers, the Canadian Tulip Festival is an easy to enjoy event and worthwhile Ottawa road trip.

Canadian Tulip Festival - Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

We got to see about a million tulips, and – bonus – got to pick up our daughter from school too!

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7 thoughts on “Canadian Tulip Festival – Ottawa

  1. Gosh. I didn’t know any of this except for the part about the Dutch Royal Family living in Stornoway. Thanks for the info. Another reason to visit Ottawa again but at a different time of year. Bernie

  2. I would love to have a yard full of flowers where I
    wouldn’t have to mow or do any weed eating, that
    would be AWESOME with different flowers colors.

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